Sunday, 22 July 2018

Fearless Fulham

It seemed the previous season was going to end in disappointment for Fulham following an average first half of the campaign that saw them languish in the middle echelons of the Championship table. However, a storming, club record run of 23 games unbeaten got Fulham into the promotion race which they eventually conquered. Fulham’s season ending in a brilliant promotion back to the Premier League after 4 years away. They will be hoping to make a statement back in the Premier League and the Fulham fans will be hoping they can go better than just survival and compete for the highest finish they can. Fulham’s magnificent run is certainly down to the commitment of the players and hard work of Slavisa Jokanovic who has done a brilliant job for the club and they will go into the new season without fear and spirit which will be difficult for other Premier League teams to match.

Fulham’s enterprising style of football won several fans, plaudits and admirers and there is no doubt Fulham will continue to play the same way in the Premier League and they will beat a few sides with this style because when Fulham are on song they are extremely difficult to handle, and this is down to Slavisa Jokanovic and his coaching staff. Work on the training ground is integral for any manager to have success and Jokanovic has worked on implementing his style for hours on end on the training ground and Fulham are a force to be reckoned with as a lot of the Championship teams found out in the previous season. Fulham sparkled at times with their football with dangerous full backs getting in behind and beautiful intricate passing throughout the team. Of course, you need a few gems in a strong team and the darling of West London is certainly Ryan Sessegnon who a just 18 has achieved so much. He dazzled in the Championship earning countless awards and of course a chance to sparkle in the biggest league of all. He is the star of a well knitted team and Fulham will be confident of keeping him at the club if they retain their Premier League status. However, Fulham click as a unit due to other players in the team who go unnoticed. The likes of Tim Ream holding the back four together, Kevin McDonald who anchors the back four superbly and the role Aleksandar Mitrovic played during his loan spell as his goals and power injected a different dynamic into Fulham’s style of play and Jokanovic will be desperate to sign his Serbian compatriot on a permanent deal. Jokanovic has brought an exciting style to the league after his second promotion to the Premier League and he can finally showcase his managerial abilities in the top flight after Watford denied him his opportunity. This determination will drive him and Fulham forward as the excitement for the new season builds.

Slavisa Jokanovic was relatively satisfied with his squad following promotion. However, all the loans from the previous season have returned to their parent clubs and they have lost right back Ryan Federicks to West Ham leaving Fulham very light on numbers. Despite this, they have made their intentions for success clear by smashing their transfer record for highly regarded midfielder Jean-Michael Seri from Nice. A real coup for the club due to the interest from much bigger clubs like Barcelona, Napoli and bitter rivals Chelsea. However, Jokanovic will be assessing each area of the pitch and Fulham certainly need numbers in their squad but Jokanovic will only sign players he believes can play to his philosophy and help Fulham achieve the minimum of Premier League safety. Despite the success of Fulham’s first team last season, they are going to need players with Premier League experience and that can cope with the physicality of the English game because there are clear differences between the Premier League and Championship and I don’t just mean financially. In addition, Fulham need a regular goal scorer which they had in Mitrovic during the second half of the season but during the first half of the campaign, they lacked an edge and goals up front with disappointing displays from Rui Fonte and Aboubakar Kamara so I’m sure Jokanovic will want at least two new strikers. He will be desperate for one of those to be Mitrovic but with Newcastle’s demands being far too high, Fulham might have to play a patient game with Newcastle. Also, Fulham certainly will need to replace Ryan Federicks after his brilliant season earned him a move to West Ham and Jokanovic will be fully aware that his full backs are integral to Fulham’s style of play, so this will certainly be top of his shopping list. Despite all these points, Jokanovic will be happy with his squad but he will be aware he needs to bulk that squad up to make Fulham competitive in the Premier League.

The Fulham fans were treated to a sensational season and they will not want their crest of a wave to end. They have belief in the players and management staff and they will be confident they can survive in the Premier League because that will be their aim at least for their first season back. The Fulham fans will support their club whatever direction their season heads in, but the club will be fearless during the campaign because they will want to take on everybody and showcase their enterprising football on the biggest stage of all. Slavisa Jokanovic has installed a confidence around the whole football club and they certainly could be ones to watch this season because Fulham are true entertainers in the world of football. This could be an exciting season for the West London club if they maintain their fearless approach and exciting style.

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